For many people, looking after a loved one with a serious health condition is a choice they gladly make. But that doesn’t make it an easy decision to live with every day. Taking care of someone places an enormous responsibility on your shoulders, as you invest all your time and energy into their wellbeing.
Caregiving can drain your energy, not just because of the physical demands of the task. You can feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster as you provide palliative care, with warring feelings of sadness, frustration, and guilt.
Before you know it, you’re exhausted, stressed out, and struggling through caregiver burnout. Sound familiar? Let’s look at what it means to be burnt out as a caregiver and how you can prevent it from interfering with your life.
What is caregiver burnout?
Everyone has a bad day or two where they feel like nothing can go right — that’s completely normal. Caregiver burnout goes above and beyond isolated feelings of fatigue or apathy. It describes the chronic feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and stress that result from looking after another person.
Burnout can happen to anyone, regardless of the work they put into caregiving. Anyone can feel the burn — whether you look after your loved on your own or coordinate with an at-home palliative care service for assistance.
Caregiver burnout can result from working long hours to ensure your loved one always has someone with them. It can also stem from the feeling of hopelessness, especially if you’re looking after a loved one with dementia or another life-limiting disease. You might feel disengaged and worn out.
The symptoms of burnout are varied:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor physical health
What can you do to alleviate burnout?